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a requirement that a 2/3 vote be enacted, be there for every expenditure and every tax increase. a 2/3 vote. this is a fundamental shift in the very nature of american democracy. we had a dozen wonderful representatives of the republican party talk for an hour here and not once did they mention that the american democracy will be forever changed, no longer majority rule , a fundamental tenant of american democracy, majority rule, pushed aside and now should this ever become law a minority rule, 1/3 of this house , 1/3 of the senate dominating the will of 65% of every elected
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representative and senator. . the end of the most fundamental tenet of american democracy, the end of majority rule. it also works in a very pernicious and bad way. you can cut taxes, you can cut taxes with a majority vote. it takes a 2/3 to raise taxes. so years and years ago, the -- they had the opportunity in our democracy to receive a tax reduction. -- the oil industry had a chance to receive a tax reduction. they got a tax reduction. and the oil industry went on with that tax reduction called a subsidy so that they can explore for oil and gas for 100 years.
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they have had a tax break. now we can give them another tax break. but under the balanced budget amendment, it would take a 2/3 vote to take away the tax reduction, the tax break, the subsidy that they have received for 100 years, a century. it would take a 2/3 vote to do that because that would be considered to be a tax increase. so what does it mean to the oil industry? here's their profits from last year. let's see. exxon, $10.7 billion. oxy, $1.6 billion. conoco, $2.1 billion. chevron $6.2 billion. b.p., of gulf fame, $7.2 billion. that's their profit. part of that profit is your tax
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dollars. part of that profit is the tax dollar of every american that has been given to the oil companies for more than a century so that they can go explore for oil. is there an american that believes that the oil industry needs our tax dollars to continue to be viable? i don't think so. but if the constitutional amendment passes, becomes part of our constitution, a majority of this house and the senate could increase the subsidy but it would take a 2/3 vote to get our money back. we need to understand the details of what a balanced budget amendment means. i notice that i've been joined by my wonderful friend and extraordinary representative from the great state of new york, representing the hudson river valley in the capital region. we had a discussion last night
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about a piece of this and i've been waiting for you to arrive when we could talk about how the balanced budget amendment and the cuts in the legislation passed yesterday would affect women. we just had 20 women from the republican party here telling us that we ought to enact a balanced budget amendment. what does it mean for women who are 65 and over? mr. tonko would you please join us and enter this conversation? mr. tonko: thank you, representative garamendi. thank you for bringing this up with laser sharp focus, which is essential as we face this default crisis, where there are those who are dragging their feet in not resolving the default crisis and refuse to have us pay our bills. when we defalmt on our debt, it's very problematic because it can disrupt our pensions, it can disrupt our 401k's, it can disrupt our mortgages because
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of the interest rate being somewhat fluctuated by that default crisis and our failure to pay our bills. what i think is important here is that you outline how unfair this process can be, how it can be rooted to support easily deep pockets, efforts to give windfall industries a mindless handout. the big oil companies getting a handout. it's much easier to retain that benefit and it's very difficult to save medicare. it's a simple majority that can end medicare. many of us go home every week, others as frequently as they can because of the distance they have to travel to get to their districts, and we're greeted by signs like this. hands off my medicare. and it's no wonder because what we've seen yesterday was the third attempt in this few
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months of the 112th congress, to end medicare. three votes, one with a republican study committee, one with the ryan plan, the path to prosperity which we have redesignated the road to ruin and yesterday with the cut, slash, and burn attempt. i won't get into the nomenclature because it's inappropriate and misrepresenting what would really happen. yesterday we had a vote on this floor to make it easy to end medicare and easy to maintain handouts to the oil company. when we look at the dollars that are saved by ending medicare, we see where they somehow are transitioned over to tax cuts that are maintained for the millionaires, billion -- for the millionaire and billionaire community, mindless
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handouts for the oil industry. this is buyer beware week. we've seen it three times over. it's an assault on the middle class. when you talk about the impact on women, you know, armchair scientists that can look at the population of seniors and understand that the proportion -- proportional representation to the greater degree is women. in that category. so this is an assault on senior women who require medicare and yet we talked about this last night on the floor, that things have changed since 1965. when, you know, president truman and mrs. truman for the -- were the first to sign up for medicare with that wonderful legislation, they began a process of dignity for our nation's seniors, where affordable, accessible care, a certainty in their lives, became a much-needed concept. because there was cherry
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picking going on, the unaffordable notion, the inaccessible notion of health care insurance coverage. and to put that now at risk and develop and mess with our constitution to make that all work, it's no wonder wall street, the wall street -- "the wall street journal" called it a very foolish approach. they labeled it, in just very negative tones. certainly bruce butler, the economic advisor to president reagan, said that it was akin to an intern writing a bill on a napkin. well, i think that's a pretty tough slam for our interns, because they would do better. we need to go forward with sensible strategies. we need to solve the default cry sice and let's face it, it should be about investing in jobs. the jobs crisis is the number one priority of the american
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public. we see it in public opinion surveys over and over again that job crisis when we resolve it addresses any revenue crisis, any spending crisis, any deficit crisis. this is the best solution. create jobs, invest in innovation, infrastructure, education. mr. garamendi: once again, mr. tonko, you're on the right track here. earlier, before you came in i was discussing our republican colleagues' women's day and they were all talking about the great value in the balanced budget constitutional amendment. my colleague from colorado, jared polis, came running over and said, they don't understand. they need to know what's in this. i'd like you to explain, i started off with the majority, 2/3 vote. you're a constitutional specialist, what does all of this mean to america if they really understood and got past the sound bite?
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balanced budget sounds good but what does it mean? >> it's particularly ironic that this session of congress opened with -- mr. polis: it's particularly ironic that this session of congress opened with a reading of the constitution. there has been debate to an extent i have not seen in this body prior under either party. let's talk about what was attempted yesterday in this constitutional amendment that would essentially pass as part of a resolution. it's one thing to say we want to eliminate medicare. the house worked its will through the ryan budget, phasing out medicare for those who are under 55 years of age. the people of this country will have the opportunity to change that. we saw an election in upstate new york where i think, and most people think, that the people of this country soundly rejected the effort to eliminate medicare. but regardless, that's what elections are about. i know that in the last election, democrats didn't fare too well, a majority inform this house was elected that wanted to phase out medicare
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for people under 55. likewise in the next election, a majority might arise in this body that supports keeping medicare solvent for the next generation. what was attempted yesterday was circumventing the public will by inserting into the united states constitution exact fiscal policy that essentially wouldn't allow medicare to exist in any form similar to what it exists today. it would specify an exact percentage of the gross national product that the public sector can contain, in our governing document. this is unprecedented. who hears of putting numbers, 19.7%, 21%, we're talking about the percentage of the economy that can be public sector versus private sector, who know what is the ideal percentage is? that's what leches are about. that's what we fight about here day here on the floor of the house. some say it should be bigger, some say it should be smaller,
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to somehow take that out of the realm of public discourse and insert that into our governing cumet is unprecedented. it castrates the united states congress. it castrates and eliminates our ability to make public policy for better or for worse. i added -- had an exchange with one of my colleagues on the rules committee as we were bringing this to the floor, i said this is an absurd -- imagine if we said -- if there was a democratic majority and said, we should mandate that public sector should be 22%, it never even crossed our mind. yet here the republican majority is trying to insert into our governing document, one that they say they have great respect for, one they began the sofingse the house by reading, inserting sexact formulated fiscal policy regarding the exact size of the
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public sector. taking that ability away from the voters of this country, taking the discussion away from the deliberative bodies of the house and senate, taking it out of the hands of the election for president of the united states, removing the fundamental issue of what role government should play. for political debates. that is grossly undemocratic. it should be an insult to all of us who value our democratic institutions, however flawed, our representational system of democracy is the most effective in the world. the people's voice will be heard. by taking away the people's voice, and castrating the united states congress, to specific policies prescribed in the constitution, we remove the ability to have present and future voters of the country to have their voices heard. and regardless of where anyone comes down on the policies, regardless of what percentage
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of the g.n.p. you believe it should be, i hope that most americans believe it's a fundamental value to have a say in our system of governance and have these debates and have them be part of the public discourse. now it's proposed to be taken away completely by a bill that passed yesterday in this body by a majority vote from the republican side. i yield back to the gentleman from california. mr. garamendi: i thank you so much for bringing our attention to the way in which the balanced budget amendment would alter the nature of our government. i talked about the majority vote versus the minority rule in this amendment and now you bring to our attention the percentage that is in the amendment. those percentages have real meaning beyond the issue of just, a very, very important issue of the nature of our government and the reason why we have representative government. why we have the senate, why we have a congress, but there's
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something else to it, the percentage after the chosen would force the government expenditures to go back to the 1965 level where there was no medicaid and no medicare program in america. so once again, there are different ways of assaulting and terminating medicare. one was the direct way that was in the republican budget that passed this house earlier in which they explicitly said that for all americans who are not yet 55, there would be no medicare. they'd be given a voucher and have to go by insurance from the private insurance market that all of us understand is a very difficult place to get a fair deal. the other part of it is, the other way to have doing it is in a constitutional amendment as proposed yesterday that would make it impossible to fund medicare and similarly, impossible to fund things like natural disasters.
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we were at 18 -- let's assume they were at 18% of g.d.p. in the federal budget and we have the great mississippi flood. or the great missouri flood. or the earthquake in california or the hurricane in florida. billions of dollars, federal government would have no ability under this amendment to step in. . mr. tonko. mr. tonko: by their ownagement, they said this would end medicare in the united states constitution. and what we end up with is that we have these very bold statements made that right there . not an honorable position to promote. mr. garamendi: freedom from
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health care. mr. tonko: yes. i think what we have witnessed is messing with a precious document. one that governance this democracy that was carefully planned by our founding parents and to take that precious document and use it in order to promote a political agenda and one that denies access access. when we look at the 1966 threshold and take it back to spending opportunities at that vintage, we need to keep in mind medicare assisting grandparents means they are denying the fundamental fact that since 1966, grandparents, grandma, is living 10 years longer on average. and so it's not real to take us back to this unwarranted threshold of 1996 and that also, you know, we have had much progress in technology and
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research in medicine so there are new opportunities for which we avail ourselves the funds. so i think that ar lot of this is not based on reality. it's not based on the desire to serve, but rather based on denial. and that's not what this should be about. there is dignity and respect factor shown the senior population. and when you get messages like this at home, keep your hands off medicare, we are getting this inletter format, emails, faxes, phone calls, every 10 calls, nine phone calls of add vow cast si to not only keep medicare and what we have done, we wept through and provided those screenings and annual checkups and made certain that co-payments or deductibles would hold back the opportunity for our seniors. we made certain that we began
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the process of filling the doughnut hole. and we found savings in the medicare situation. and yes, you're right. they talked about cutting back. we found savings by reducing the profit columns of the insurance industry when it came to medicare. and then transferred in a very fungible way, we transferred those savings into the development, positive outcome for seniors in the pharmaceutical area, because we know that the doughnut hole is a pricey thing for people. seniors are dipping into their own pocket to pay for the pharmaceutical costs in order to stay well or to recover from an illness. there was great passion, compassion shown here and we moved forward with a way to fill the doughnut hole completely, completely and we began that process last year. that is denied again in this process. again, to the fact of being concerned about women. concerned about women, why would
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you cut head start programs. working women require head start , it's a good way to develop the social, the educational, the cognitive skills of youngsters and why would you deny a quarter of a million of children? that's an attack of working women. why would you reduce education by 12% in title one areas as they did with their budget. that is an attack on educators, most of whom are women. so when we look at some of the attacks here by gender, by age, by income strata, it clearly is assumed here and documented that it's an assault on middle class america and working families and time to grow the middle class,
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strengthen the middle class and strengthen their purchasing power and in so doing, we need to go ahead with laser-sharp focus that is built on truth, not fiction and invest in infrastructure, education and the improvements that we need to make in innovation. mr. garamendi: before we leave the balanced budget amendment, the bill that was on the floor yesterday had two other pieces to it. one of them was to -- was to go after the budget of the united states and reduce it by $111 billion beginning in october of this year. that has real impact. part of that impact will be felt on medicare. let's just put some understanding into what medicare is all about. our colleague from connecticut did this last night, but it
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really is well worth repeating. so i'm going to read off some statistics, so please bear with me, in 1965, when medicare was established, 44% of all seniors, 65 and over, did not have health insurance. now, of those 40%, of those 40% of the seniors lived in poverty. so you had heavy poverty and no insurance. the two are tied together. if you got sick, you lost your money and spent everything you have. the life expectancy at that period was 70 years. what's happened in the intervening years since 1965? 40 million seniors, nearly every senior in the united states has health insurance, not just a little health insurance, they have a comprehensive health insurance policy that covers most everything they need, doctors, hospitals and drugs.
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the poverty rate for seniors has fallen from 40% to 10%. why? social security and medicare. now they lived to 70 in 1965. today, seniors live to an average age of 78.5 years. why? because they have medical care and they have social security providing them with the basics of life. now what happens if the republican budget were to pass and social security were to end not only for those who are 55 years of age now and want to have social security 10 years later in their lives when they become 65, but immediately for seniors now if the republican bill passed, would become law that passed yesterday and the previous one, the budget bill
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were to become law, 880 billion would be removed from medicaid. this is for impoverished people in america, almost all of whom are in nursing homes. $880 billion over 10 years removed from medicaid, so those seniors, most of whom are women, i will remind you that we heard from the republican women earlier promoting a program that would cut $880 billion out of medicaid, 70% of which goes to nursing homes. the majority of whom in those nursing homes are women. this is not a women's program they have put forward. and on the drug side, you were talking about this, mr. tonko. this is an immediate reduction, an immediate reduction in the
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drug benefits. so that 3.9 million seniors would wind up paying $2.2 billion more immediately if the republican budget were to go into law because of the reduction in the affordable care act that provided this benefit. these are just some of the things that the american public needs to understand when you get past the sound bites. we must balance the budget and therefore the balanced budget amendment. well, wait, what is it? what does it really do? terminates majority rule in america and institutes minority rule. so the fundamental of american democracy is trashed. requires that the budget of the united states be ramped back, back, back to the 1965 percentage of g.d.p. before there was medicare, which means that medicare is over once that
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balanced budget amendment passes. mr. tonko. mr. tonko: i didn't hear -- i didn't hear the advocacy about paying our bill but cutting away at middle class values and needs, i didn't hear the default crisis in paying our bill. we are saying we need to respond to a default crisis and we are talking about a jobs agenda. we haven't seen one jobs bill in the house brought forth and that is a major concern because the jobs crisis when resolved investing in jobs, so -- mr. garamendi: could you yield for just a moment? mr. tonko: certainly. mr. garamendi: you have moved to a subject that we want to get to which is jobs. mr. tonko: if i could say one thing. when we fall short on the medicaid side, it falls upon a property taxpayer and if you are on a fixed income and many
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seniors are and disproportionate number of women in households in the senior years are going to be impacted by a property tax that when levied on that home doesn't know if you are unemployed, on fixed income or underemployed, so it will be hitting a retirey on fixed income very, very hard. we are transferring from a progressive income taxes and taxes on the federal level on over to a state situation where it will trickle down to the property tax. mr. garamendi: and on the individuals. this is something that i always put up when we talk about medicare, it was 1965. this is a tombstone and it says medicare, 1965 to 2007, created by l.b.j., destroyed by the g.o.p. mr. tonko: we had three votes to end medicare. mr. garamendi: three votes to
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end medicare in the new congress, three votes by the republicans that have put up three different measures that terminate medicare as we know it. mr. tonko: to give tax cuts to the job creators. mr. garamendi: to the job creators, you must mean those wealthy folks. mr. tonko: millionaire, billionaire tax cut that responds to the needs of the job creators. mr. garamendi: we have been joined by an individual by the great state of vermont, who has spoken many times on this floor about jobs and what we need to do. mr. peter welch. thank you for joining us. mr. welch: thank you. we are in a very serious situation now. we are 11 days away from perhaps the first time in the history of this country not paying our bills. and it is extraordinarily
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damaging what that will do to our economy. interest rates will go up. 1% increst in our debt service and $140 billion more to service the debt. i don't care whether you have a nancy pelosi point of view that we could use that money better on infrastructure or eric cantor point of view that you could use it for tax cuts, that is money out the door. that is squanered money. and the a.a.a. rating is enormous and starts hurting people, individuals. you have a mortgage, mortgage rates could go up. if you want to buy a car and borrow money, your rates are going to go up. if you put aside money for your kids to go to college, which we know is incredibly expensive. the markets will create turmoil and will take a hit. retirement savings, about to
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retire and been saving a all your life, that can get whacked. this is reckless and irresponsible. we have to pay our bills. now, it is true that we have a long-term fiscal challenge. that requires a long-term fiscal plan. but first time in the history of our country, literally holding hostage our obligation to pay our bills to getting your way on your design of how we should have a long-term fiscal plan, that's never been done before. . in the past, both sides have tended to grandstand when it comes to the debt ceiling. the tradition has been that the party out of power and doesn't have the responsibility to get the debt ceiling passed to pay our bills grand stands about it but neither side has ever held it hostage. ronald reagan, who was not at
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all shy about engaging in tax fights and budget fights, raised the debt ceiling he never would use the full faith and credit of this country to win his battles because he knew that would cause too much harm to the economy. it's putting a loaded gun to the head of the american economy. we have got to get back to the basics here. we have to pay our bills. my hope is that then we would work together because we don't have to cut medicare to get to fiscal solvency. we do have to reform the way we deliver health care and reform the cost of health care but if we have a balanced approach where we include revenues, we include the pentagon and we as democrats have worked very hard on various spending programs and have shared in the effort to get ourselves to fiscal solvency, we can do that we can make progress if we work together and just recognize the obvious, we've got to pay our bills and we have to work together to get a long-term
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fiscal plan. mr. garamendi: peter, as we stand here on the floor of the house debating an extraordinarily important moment of time about the direction we're going to go, this issue of paying our bills, we need to understand that what we're really talking about here is not tomorrow's bills, we're talking about expenditures that have been made over the years. dating back to world war ii and even before world war ii, expenditures that have been made, both by majority of this house and by the senate, signed by the president, america decided to spend the money. earlier, i put up a chart here talking about where it came from. this house. and george w. bush, voted to reduce taxes. created a deficit. had to borrow money. voted to carry out two wars, afghanistan and iraq. borrowed money to do it. these are past expenditures. here we are, days away from the
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default crisis, where our republican friends are using this moment in time, where we're not really discussing tomorrow's expenditures, we're talking about yesterday's expenditures and they're saying, give us our way our else america defaults. mr. welch: representative garamendi, i think the message from the democrats in the house of representatives is straightforward and logical. mr. tonko: we said save medicare, make it stronger. then we talk about cutting, cutting programs that don't create jobs. do those cuts where there's no jobs created. where there are, save those programs, strengthen them, provide for jobs by investing in education, in innovation, and in infrastructure. and it's very easy when you take the education investment,
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the infrastructure investment and certainly the education investment that equals jobs for americans. middle class americans. and that's what it's all about. if we create jobs, it drives down the unemployment factor, drives down the deficit. and there's no stronger form of medicine on earth than jobs being created. it solves a revenue crisis, it solves a deficit crisis, it solves a spending crisis. some of these programs are correlated directly with unemployment. there's a need to address the needs of the unemployed, the poor, if you're putting people to work, if you invest in training and retraining programs, education, if you invest in r&d, grow, move ideas along into a manufacturing mode, then make it in america, these are the values that we embrace as the party in the house and i think it's been a
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refreshing message, one that really gets to something here and at the same time we're speaking to the default crisis. this is how we resolve that default crisis. don't walk away from the obligation, the responsibility to pay our bills. as you said, two wars, a pharmaceutical part d medicare and millionaire and billionaire tax cuts, were all spent. all forms of spending. all of that was borrowed. in order to spend on tax cuts. and now the bills have come home to be paid. it happened a decade ago. doesn't matter. there's bills that have to be paid. we cannot put the economic vitality and viability of this nation at risk of trigger an international economic crisis by not paying our bills system of we address the default crisis, we save medicare and strengthen medicare and we have a formula of innovation, education and infrastructure that equals jobs for americans,
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working families, for middle class americans. it's straightforward. mr. garamendi: we kept hearing from our republican colleagues that what america needs is a cut, balance -- how does that work? mr. tonko: i don't know,s of messing with the constitution and "the wall street journal" advised, don't mess with the constitution, leave the constitution out of this. there are those who are economic advisors -- who were economic advisors to president reagan who said, this is frightening. so no one took that seriously. we spent hours here debating on the format, to adjust the constitution and some of the best minds who have worked in government have said, you know, from very conservative perspectives, have said, this was a paesful measure.
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mr. garamendi: we heard it over and over again, it was cut, balance -- it was cut -- what i kept hearing is cut, slash, and burn. they're going to cut and slash critical programs for seniors. i think what americans really want, really, really want, they want -- mr. tonko: they want jobs. mr. garamendi: they want an invest, grow and build policy. not a cut, slash and burn policy. they want to invest in education. they want their kids to have an education. they want to build infrastructure and see the economy grow. i'll tell you what happens when you start cutting, slashing and burning. here's what happens. if you take a look at the american economy, beginning in december of 2009, just start right there. just say that's the equilibrium point, not a good day at all in america, a lot of jobs not available. but we've seen 2.8 million jobs
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created in the private sector. simultaneously, we have seen cut, slash, and burn at the federal level as the republicans have taken control and put in their continuing resolutions and reduced the federal budget and at the state level and we've seen 378,000 jobs lost in the public sector. police, firemen, people that are out there making sure that our food is safe and so forth. so here's the reality, as we're seeing the government jobs go down, for every 100 government jobs cut, 30 private sector jobs are lost because those people depend upon the payroll from those government jobs. the simpson-bowles deaf ship -- deficit commission said it clearly. this is a long-term problem. we need to solve the deficit over the long-term. we cannotened an should not solve it with immediate cuts because it will impair the
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recovery of america. here's what's happening. we're seeing growth in the private sector retarded as the public sector reduces. this is the effect of the cut, slash, and burn strategy that our republican colleagues want to put forward. so what's going on in vermont? mr. welch: let's talk about the balanced budget amendment. we in vermont don't have a balanced budget amendment. we're the only state that doesn't have it. we always managed to balance our budget. and we've done that when we had republican administrations and democratic administrations. the balanced budget amendment in congress, i think, has some hazards because the federal government at certain times is the one tool that the american people have to be countercyclical. if the economy is going down and requires the federal government to step up to maintain purchasing power, that's debatable but it's the only -- the only tool that we have as citizens is the federal government to do that.
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what i think the balanced budget amendment suggests is that you can legislate away your future problems. you can come up with a fix that's going to guarantee you're not going to have to suffer through trying to figure out how to solve very difficult problems. either because of the national security threat, it's a collapse in the economy like we had with the collapse of wall street. and by and large, it's not any way for us to avoid making direct and difficult decisions where we balance our revenue needs and we balance our spending needs. based on the circumstances. that's the constant work in congress that requires the application and judgment, requires cooperation and requires the ability to be flexible and responsive to the circumstances that exist. a balanced budget amendment is a one size fits all that puts us in handcuffs in an effort to try to avoid getting out of balance.
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mr. garamendi: thank you very much, mr. welch. i noticed that on my left side, our colleague, mr. perlmutter from colorado, has joined us and directly in front of me, our colleague from the great state of ohio, ms. sutton. let me turn to mr. perlmutter, of colorado. mr. perlmutter: thank you, mr. garamendi. i think you all have been focused on the real issue in front of us. the best way, we have some budget issues but the best way to handle our debt is to put people back to work. the quickest way to reduce the debt or the deficit is to put people back to work. all of a sudden you have revenue coming in and you don't have to pay unemployment and you don't have to pay so much cobra and don't have to pay so much medicaid. that's the first order of business plus it really makes people feel valuable. anybody knows that a job gives you dignity.
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that's what you're looking for, a good job to care for your families, to, you know, provide for the future, that's what we've got to do here. democrats, our formula is innovate, education, rebuild our infrastructure equals jobs, equals good jobs that are long lasting that people can rely on. that they can work, you know and feel good about their livings and the future for their family. now, one of the things that we've said as democrats is if we make it in america, we will make it in america. instead of sending jobs overseas, let's have them here. we have the finest people in the world, some of the most talented and skilled people anywhere, we need to be making things in this country. in colorado, for instance, one of the places where we can see these jobs is in our energy sector, both in traditional energy, oil and gas development, but also in new
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energy, you know, energy efficiency, renewable energy, solar, wind, biomass, new jobs, good jobs, and so, you know, all this budget talk, all this balanced budget stuff that i think does a real damage to the constitution, that should be going to the side. we've got to focus on putting people back to work with good jobs that last a long time. with that, i yield back to my friend from california. mr. garamendi: let's get ourselves into a great discussion. the great midwest, ohio, the industrial center of america being rebuilt by betty sutton. ms. sutton. ms. sutton: thank you and thank you to my colleagues for being down here, fighting the fight our american people want us to fight. in my district, people's number one priority is putting people back to work. as representative perlmutter
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state sod eloquently, it is about empowering people. they don't want a lot from their government but they do want a government that will work with themened for them and enable to the extent possible play that role that will help grow our economy, invest in infrastur -- infrastructure that puts people back to work, level the playing field for our manufacturers. i come from a place where we have a strong manufacturing base. it hasn't always been treated fairly. we've had a lot of unfair trade deals that have been passed that have hurt the people i represent and we've had a lot of policies that frankly just didn't do them well. and we can do better. but here we are, 200-something days into this new congress under republican leadership and not a single jobs plan to come before this body. it is quite amazing to think about. instead, what are they talking about? imposing a budget that ends medicare and protects the very
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tax breaks that end up shipping our jobs overseas. i'm really proud to stand here with you tonight and work on those policies that will put america back to work. that will strengthen not only our infrastructure but our economy which will keep our place in this world as leaders. and so, as we move forward, i hope that our colleagues on the other side of the aisle will get focused on what america needs and that is jobs, jobs, and jobs. and we have a role to play. we can deal with the deficit, we should deal with the deficit but the kinds of cuts they're talking about, ending medicare, taking this out of our seniors instead of cutting those tax breaks that have existed for those oil companies and others, at the very top that have been a burden to our middle class because they're the ones who have to make up the difference, let's focus on jobs. let's encourage our colleagues in the g.o.p. to get on board
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and start working on what america needs and that is to put america back to work. mr. garamendi: and make it in america. we're going to make it. s that great, strong country, yesterday, i heard during the debate that we're broke. we're not broke at all. we've got a deficit problem, we can deal with that with some good policies when we put people to work. this is america. we're going to make it in america. look at that thing that mr. perlmutter has over there, trade policies, we talked about that a little bit, taxes, we're spending our tax money on buying equipment that's made overseas when it ought to be made in ohio, the buses the trains the solar panel the wind turbines, how about doing those in colorado. you have a plant there. . talk to me about research. mr. tonko, you come from one of the great early research centers in america. mr. tonko: thank you, representative garamendi.
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the 21st congressional district i represent is the host community to the barge canal and gave birth to mill towns that became the centers of invention and innovation. that spirit is fed in our d.n.a. it's why my region is one of the top five in the country for the growth of green-collarred jobs. innovation is being advanced as we invest in job creation. not cutting programs that provide opportunities for work. instead, they're going and building up programs. tax cuts for millionaires? they need the dollars for that. cutting valuable programs. i speak to the dignity factor for our seniors or resevere and development that grows jobs. the democrats are on message.
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jobs, jobs, jobs. you'll resolve the deficit situation, revenue situation and spending situation. mr. garamendi: we are going to put people back to work with a clean snrg policy. we need a national security policy on energy. and i know that part of that solution is going to come from colorado where they are doing the research where they are making this equipment and from middle america. mr. perlmutter, tell us about the energy systems in colorado. mr. perlmutter: time is short, so colorado, we are very fortunate to have the national renewable energy lab, which is the finest lab of any kind in the world to help us develop ways to better use our energy. a gallon saved is a gallon earned. focus on energy efficiency, solar, wind, biomass, geothermal. those are new jobs and to be more efficient with traditional
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energy sources and how we use them and extract them. this is about restoring the american dream for people. they have good jobs, a good education, dignified and helping the lives of seniors. that's what we want to restore for america. not all this gloom and doom we are hearing. this is about restoring the american dream. mr. garamendi: we are going to go around and wrap and start with ms. sutton from ohio. you have 37 seconds. ms. sutton: thank you for having this hour. and it is so important that we do make it in america. i talked a little bit about jobs. i have a bill right now that's pending that i would encourage the republicans to join me with in passing. keep american jobs from going down the drain act. it just says that as we rebuild our infrastructure here, water and sewer infrastructure that we do it with american iron and steel and manufactured goods.
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it's a jobs bill and strengthening bill. it's good for america. this is a strong and great country and i agree with my colleague, we can do better by it. mr. tonko: our country is strong and our economy is one that is bolstered by job creation and we said it so many times over and over again. don't cut valuable programs allow our seniors the dignity of medicare. that allows them to have economic sustainability, vitality and that is important that we invest from children to seniors that produces jobs and strengthens the regional, state and national economies and we go forward and the optimism is there. our message is one of can-do, not denial, cut, slash, burn. mr. welch: let's pay our bills. we always have, we always will. two, let's have a long-term budget plan to stabilize our budget with a balanced approach, receive news as well as cuts,
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the pentagon as well as reforming how we deliver health care and three, make it in america. mr. garamendi: we will make it in america and when we do, we will put a jobs program and grow and build this economy. that's our promise. i yield back our time. the speaker pro tempore: the chair lays before the house a message. the clerk: to the congress of the united states, section 202-d of the national emergencies act provides for the automatic termination of a national emergency unless, prior to the anniversary date of its declaration, the president publishes in the federal register and transmits to the congress a notice stating that the emergency is to continue in effect beyond the anniversary date. in accordance with this provision i have sent this
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enclosed notice to the federal register for publication stating that the national emergency and relating measures dealing with the regime of charles taylor are to continue. the actions and policies of the former liberian president and other persons and their unlawful depletion of liberian resources and secreting of liberian funds and property continues to undermine its transition to democracy and orderly development of its political and economic institutions and resources. these actions and pose an threat to the foreign policy of the united states. for this reason i have determined it is necessary to continue the national emergency with respect to the former liberian regime of charles taylor. signed barack obama, the white house house. the speaker pro tempore: referred to the committee on
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foreign affairs and ordered printed. pursuant to clause 12-a of rule 1, the chair declares the house in reces
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>> senate may be taking up the house approved plan. press secretary said the white house is enthusiastic about a plan proposed yesterday by a bipartisan group of senators
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known as the gang of six. this is about an hour. >> no warm-up speaker today? >> not today. not today. good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. thank you for being here as ever at the white house. this is your daily briefing. before i take questions, i have a brief readout. last night, the president called senate majority leader reid, speaker boehner and senator mcconnell and nancy pelosi. a different
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mr. michaud: ell. -- a different mitch mitchell. >> let's motor on here. the president spoke with senators reid and mcconnell and leader pelosi and speaker boehner to discuss progress we are making in negotiation toss find a balanced approach. the president will hold a meeting at the white house today at 2:50 p.m. with house and senate democratic leadership. those are my announcements. >> all eight leaders? >> house and senate leaders. >> not the republicans? >> as we have other meetings to announce, but the meeting we have to announce is with the house and senate democratic leadership. at least four.
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we'll see. they are still working on the manifest. i believe it's four. let me get back to you on the coverage. >> why are the republicans not involved and how did the conversation go with boehner? >> i'm not go to go read out the individual conversations except to say they were useful and productive. we have been having conversations and meetings with different groupings of leaders and rank and file members and we will continue to do that at the presidential, vice presidential and staff level. this meeting is the next one up. we'll get back to you with other announcements as they happen. >> what does he want to accomplish? >> to discuss approaches for further deficit reduction, balanced approach. obviously the role that the gang of six is planning now and
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adding to the, we think, the momentum behind the principle that the best way to do this, the only way to do significant deficit reduction is to do it in a balanced way so we go after all the drivers in our long-term debt, including domestic nondefense spending, discretionary spending, defense spending, entitlement spending and tax code spending. so to further those conversations, wer as the president said yesterday in the 11th hour, we need to meet, talk, consult, narrow down what our options are and figure out in fairly short order which train we're riding into the station. right now, there are multiple options being discussed, including the work that senator mcconnell is doing with senator reid and others. there's the gang of six proposal. obviously the president's framework and other proposals are out there and we need to
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decide what we are going to do to ensure at the very least what we have talked about is the united states does not for the first time in its history default on its obligation. >> can you discuss the president's challenge in swaying democratic leaders to go along with changes in entitlements. . . >> this is i i think as representatives of both the house and the senate, this is an important point that you raise because while we have certainly spoke an lot about and made clear that we believe republicans need to be willing to compromise, need to accept that they won't get 100% of what they want, that this is a two-party system and a divided government and it requires compromise and bipartisan cooperation in order for big things -- corporation in order
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for big things to get done, the same is true for democrats. the point the president has made is he is willing to take plit cam heat in order to argue -- political heat in order to argue successfully, he believes, to his fellow democrats that we need to make some tough choices in order to ensure that we can reduce our deficits, get control of our debt, precisely because that is the best thing for our economy and it allows us to continue to make the absolutely necessary investments we need to make in education, in research and development and in infrastructure, at that allow the economy to continue to grow. so, that's the case he has been making to democrats and will continue to make. >> and lastly, i know you've gone over the debate the real deadline, considering congress' timetable, you can explain how possible or when do you run out of time to get something as big as a gang of six legislation through?
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aren't we there? >> the point is to the comments that the o.m.b. director made over the weekend that there is still time. if everyone's serious and committed to achieving a big deal, obviously time is running short and in terms of the deadline we've talked about, august 2 is a real and fast deadline. we must take action to deal with our debt, raising the debt ceiling before then. but there is still time to do something significant if all parties are willing to compromise because the parameters of what that might look like are well known, especially to the participants in the negotiations the president oversaw last week. and going back to, is it july 22, is it the 23rd. this is again an estimate about what it takes to move something through congress. there is sort of the -- [inaudible] about the way congress works that you have to accept that things can't turn up and be
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voted on and reconciled and all the things that need to happen all in one day. so you need to move back from august 2 from there but it's hard to guess and we'd leave it up to the leaders of congress to provide their best estimates rather than us. >> to buy yourself some time are you going to have to go with a short-term deal so you can -- you know, take a little more time, negotiate this package? >> well, we are, as you know, supportive of the efforts by senators mcconnell and reid to craft a fallback provision, solution, that ensures that we take the next -- necessary action on raising the debt ceiling. and when i was talking about, you know, which train we're going to ride into the station, right now there are multiple trains heading toward the station, we have to decide. some of them may continue up to the last moment because we need to be sure that that fail safe option is there, even as we pursue aggressively the possibility of doing something bigger. you know, the president has been
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clear that he will not support a short-term extension of the debt ceiling. there is no reason why we can not come together now and get something significant done. what we mean by that is we would not support a short-term extension absent the agreement to a larger deal. that's not acceptable. if both sides agree to something significant we will support the measures needed to finalize the details of that. but as you saw, and i'll go back to what i just said a minute ago, jack made clear over the weekend that because we know what we're talking about here, if there's a willingness and we believe there's a growing willingness on capitol hill, if there's a willingness to do something significant and comprehensive and balanced we can get that done within the time frame and the -- by the deadline of august 2. >> i'm going to ask you briefly about libya. they're saying that gaddafi could stay in power or could stay in libya dep he gives up power. is that something the u.s. would support?
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>> the united states' position has always been that colonel gaddafi lost his legitimacy to lead and he needs to be removed from power, remove himself from power. it is up to the libyan people to decide what his future is beyond that. it's not for us to say. the issue here is that he needs to step down. he's lost his legitimacy, he's increasingly isolated, not just from the world but from his own country. the opposition has made significant progress. the international community gathered together with the united states is taking the step necessary to recognize the provisional government and with the aid of doing that, freeing up funds for the opposition to use. in so many ways, the gaddafi regime is running out of fuel and cash and there's so many ways that he's really running out of time.
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so, shoot here is removing himself from power, no longer being a threat to the people of libya and then it's up for the libyan people to decide their own future including what that means for gaddafi if he's not out of the country. >> if he stays in the country you're not going to -- >> it's up to the libyan people to decide. what our position is quite clear about his retaining power and -- or rather giving up power and no longer being a threat to his people. >> does the white house have a -- [inaudible] have you had a chance to review it on the gang of six plan beyond the general support for principle, the principles that the president discussed yesterday? >> what i would say is that, again, as i said yesterday, it represents significant, broad support along the linings of the approach the president took -- lines of the approach the president took.
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there are, as we look at the provisions within it and as you know there was some level of detail provided and more coming, you know, it's possible we may not agree with every aspect of their approach but the issue here isn't which piece of paper will be the final piece of legislation because that's going to be -- if the decision is made that we're going to take a bipartisan approach, that we're going to take a balanced approach, the framework that the president put forward, that the gang of six has now put forward, that simpson-bowles commission has put forward and others, you know, are all available to create a process that produces a piece of legislation that we believe a majority in congress would support and certainly the american people would support and the president would sign. the details of that obviously would have to be worked out. but the frame here, savings out of the tax code, savings out of -- from entitlement reform,
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significantly reduced nondefense discretionary spending, reduced defense spending, it's done in a way that protects our national security, this is the way to go about it. and that's how you get to the $3.5 trillion and above savings over 10 years that we've talked about. and that the gang of six is talking about. as long as there's political will, the details -- there's enough substance out there now for a package to be crafted and i think i would note that one of the things that either speaker boehner or his spokesperson said last night was that there was some similarity between what the gang of six had put forward and what the president and the speaker had been talking about when they were looking at the possibility of achieving a grand bargain. so again that's the, you know, we agree with that assessment and if the will is there we can get down to negotiating the details. i don't have a specific provision of the gang of six's proposal to declare from here
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that we accept or reject. the overall approach we definitely accept. and as you know others including the speaker of the house and the president of the united states have been having discussions about what a grand bargain would look like concretely. so there is a framework with details that has already been worked on, that this helps propel or create momentum behind the possibility that we could actually move in that direction. >> -- legislation, would the president sign it? >> again, i'm not going to make a declaration about the specifics of what the gang of six has put forward in part because all the details aren't even known yet. this is not a piece of legislation, it's written as a bill, so we would not issue a statement of administration policy or whether the president would sign it based on an outline. what he does wholly support is the approach that they've taken because he believes it's the
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right approach, it's the approach that overwhelmingly we've seen now the american people support, americans who are both democrats and republicans and americans who are independents, they all support this kind of approach. so we find that very encouraging. >> what reason do you have or does the president have to be optimistic that the house republicans or the house of representatives in general can must ar majority vote for anything other than the cut, cap and balance bill? >> the reason to be optimistic is that the members of the house of representatives were elected by the american people, by their constituents in their districts and if they listen not just to the loudest voices, especially those in special interest group, who argue that they should or shouldn't do one thing, but take into account the views of all of their constituents, we believe that a majority in both houses
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would support a balanced approach. and in the end, listening to the voices of the people who elected you, who sent you to washington, is really what you're supposed to do and what this is all about. we believe there are some signs that -- and certainly many signs of the growing willingness to consider this approach among democrats an republicans and that's a positive thing. so, you know we obviously understand the political die name -- dynamics in the congress are pretty complicated and we're a step removed from it but keen observers of it but we continue to make the case and work with leaders of congress and other willing participants among the rank and file that this is the approach that will best serve the american people, will best serve the economy and will best serve the political interests of everyone because doing the right thing in this case is good politics.
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>> so faith in humanity is your answer? [laughter] >> we're keen observers of the dynamic up there and we think there is reason to be optimistic that something like this could be achieved. obviously it takes a lot of work and will power -- >> keen observers of what? >> of the political dynamic in the congress. >> what specifically is the political dynamic that you're observing that you think that they're going to support -- >> we believe there has been significant -- as more and more attentions that been paid to this issue, there has been a significant amount of acceptance broadly by democrats, independents and republicans, including elected officials that a balanced approach that requires compromise on all sides is the right way to go. now, we continue to push for the biggest deal possible and that would include a balanced approach. we are also pragmatic and realistic and committed to the
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notion that we absolutely must take action before august 2 in order to not create a situation where the united states could default on its obligations. therefore we are pursuing as well, even as we pursue the bigger prize, we are working with congress to ensure that there is a mechanism by which we simply raise the debt ceiling or raise the debt ceiling and do something much smaller than the grand bargaining. but, i mean, i think it's important to note that the members of the gang of six represent in many ways, you know, progressive democrats and very conservative republicans. i know you're not but these are not -- this is not a distinct species even within the political categories that we're talking about. and we have a little faith in the capacity of our elected leaders in congress to hear what the american people are telling them, hear what their colleagues are telling them and hopefully
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create majorities within both houses to do the right thing. yes? >> after the president made a statement praising the gang of six yesterday, durbin came out saying there's not enough time and this would probably have to start in the house where passage is more tricky. mcconnell was noticeably silent and leader cantor was critical of its revenue. so do you think if there's the will -- does the white house think there is a will to pass it in congress? >> we think there should be and there could be but i'm not -- i'm not laying bets that it's going to happen but we would be -- it would be a failure of leadership to simply give up because the odds aren't overwhelmingly in our favor. i mean, and that would be true if it were the right thing to do even if the majority of the american people didn't think it were the right thing to do if we
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firmly believed it was. the president believes it's the right thing to do and the majority of the public believes the same thing. we continue to make the argument, we continue to negotiate, we continue to look at the avenues available to us to make something bigger happen. even as we very pragmatically negotiate and try to work out something smaller. >> given that the project and this mcconnolly plan -- [inaudible] what is the advantage of pushing something that seems more like a hail mary pass? what do you think can get done by pushing the gang of six? >> again, i think it's important to note and i try to make this clear yesterday, we were not -- the president has not endorsed the specifics of the gang of six. the president was involved in negotiations on a grand bargain with his own proposals and his own ideas that mirror broadly what the gang of six was doing. so, it's not like we're -- we're not saying that it's gang of six
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and their plan or bust. first of all. second of all, you know, we have the capacity to do two things at once which is negotiate the smaller deal and negotiate the potential for a bigger deal. it would be -- we would be failing in our responsibilities not to do that. because we believe that a bigger deal remains possible. and we're not alone. there are a number of members of congress who believe that and while you did point out there were some cold water report on this idea by some folks, overwhelmingly the reaction i think was notably positive. in congress. in congress yesterday. so, in the senate and even some of the leaders, some of the things they said i would point to you and note that there was some positive statements said by leaders in both houses of both parties about the work of the gang of six. so, we press on. and we acknowledge that we have to be sure that there is a
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backup plan because the united states will not default, the united states president working with congress will take the action necessary to ensure that we raise the debt ceiling, we pay our bills, bills that were wrung up in the past and need to be paid. and we continue to fight for something bigger and better that addresses the big problem here which is the sizable deficits that we confront and the drag that the long-term debt problem creates for our economy. and address it in a way that's balanced so we don't do something that actually con contracts the economy or slows it down or reduces job creation but enhances it. >> any hindsight concern that he was too enthusiastic in his embrace of the gang of six? >> 24 hours, absolutely not. we were immensely enthusiastic about the fact that yesterday six members of the senate, three republicans, three democrats,
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progressives and conservatives came together and put forward a proposal that's balanced, that deals in a significant way with our deficit problem and our long-term debt problem. that is a significant deal and it is worth being enthusiastic about. and it happens, one the reasons why we're so enuse in yass tick about it is because it mirrors the approach the president has taken, it mirrors the approach that simpson-bowles commission put forward and that others put forward and those two bipartisan commissions and we think it further -- one of the head winds we've been dealing with since talking about this, as we made the case, the president's pushing for a bigger deal and a balanced approach, is that,le with, we know that republicans who aren't in congress are arguing increase little that we should do this but what about elected members of congress? well, what the gang of six put forward yesterday and the support they got after they put it forward from their commeement colleagues of both parties i think is an indication that
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behind wind is dissipating. yes, norman. >> the president was immensely enthusiastic about the gang of six plan. does the president believe the democratic leadership in the senate is also enthusiastic about it? >> i would go back to the question that ben asked which is the president feel it's it is his responsibility and it's a -- feels it is his responsibility and it's a responsibility he takes on willingly to make the case to democrats and rank and file democrats and members of leadership about why a significant balance deficit reduction package is the right way to go. i would remind you of course that senator durbin is a member of the leadership and a member of the gang of six as well. senator alexander, while not maybe of the original gang of six, is a supporter of it and is a member of republican leadership. >> part of the meeting today, first the democrats and alone with democrats to make the case to them to move forward on this? >> look, they will have a discussion about pot tension for a big deal, the potential for a
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medium sized deal and the work being done to ensure that there is a failsafe fallback alternatives if we are not able to reach agreement, regrettably not able to reach an agreement on a more significant redux package -- debt reduction package. i'm sure everyone will have important things to add to that conversation. the president will continue to argue that with both sides that since none of this is easy, none of these votes are going to be easy for members of either party, that this is an opportunity then to go ahead and think big and try to get something significant done that actually had long-term positive impact on the economy. >> but if you look at the whole gang of six deficit reduction plan, it's not a plan to raise the debt ceiling. that would take an enormous amount of time to do all of that. even get a bill put forward. so, the president would accept a short-term extension alongside
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an agreement for a larger deficit reduction -- >> let me turn it around. if both side as i degree to something significant, we will support the measures needed to finalize details. but there is no extension without an agreement on something big. a firm, commit aid agreement on something big. we're not waivering on the president's absolute assertion that he won't sign, you know, a series of ill-defined, sort of tollbooth series of provisions that temporarily or in a limited fashion raise the debt ceiling and we have to relitigate this again and again and again. not just because it's unpleasant, in fact, not principally because it's unpleasant for everyone involved, but because it's bad for the economy. it sends the wrong signal to everyone around the globe about washington's capacity to deal with its fiscal issues. and one of the things that i think is quite clear is that if we send a signal from washington
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that washington works, that washington can tackle big problems, that that will have a significantly positive impact around the globe. and it will remind people about why the united states is the best country to invest in, why we are, as we have always been, a safe harbor in terms of the security of your investments. and that important signal is sent so we look forward to doing that. >> six or seven republicans in the house haven't signed the american for tax reform pledge. as you understand the gang of six proposal, is it possible to support that and not violate the pledge? >> well, i used to be someone who analyzed republican party politics for a living, i am no longer. i would simply say that what's needed here is the political will to get outside of one's
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comfort zone and that's true for democrats as it is for republicans. and that would be required for anything that is significant in size in terms of the deficit reduction packages that we're talking about. i would note, however, that there are -- there have been some important voices who have pointed out and some of them are elected officials in the republican party who have pointed out that no one here is talking about raising -- and certainly not the president of the united states, lower taxes for working and middle class americans ever since he took office, about raising taxes on those people whoofmentwho we're talking about at the minimum is closing loopholes, ending subsidies that give unfair advantages to industries or simply aren't justifiable in a teerm time where we all need to tighten our belts in order to reduce the deficit and get our fiscal house in order. so, i don't want to give political advice -- advise to
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members of eith -- advice to members of either party but there is certainly a worth while argument to make that closing a loophole is not raising, you know, an average american's taxes. it's simply not. when you end an unfair advantage that the makers of private jets enjoy, tax advantage, or the subsidies that the oil and gas companies enjoy, you're actually -- and by using that money to reduce the deficit and allow for a balanced package, a more balanced package, that therefore does not require as much burden on middle class americans, you're doing everyone -- you're doing a broad swalingt of the american people favor and doing it right in a balanced way. that would be the argument i would make and others who i'm sure have more swag within the g.o.p. have been making. >> one of the elements of the gang of six proposal is a 29% top income tax rate.
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>> i'm not going to get into the itemized spifpkses of the proposal and what we -- specifics of the proposal and what we can and cannot support. the president does support tax reform and it has been reported that, you know, what a broad compromise might look like would involve some tax reforms. so, you know, beyond that i'll leave it to the folks who are actually negotiating a deal. >> budget director -- [inaudible] advised the president how long it would take to score this proposal, whether or not he will tell us that number? has the president asked him how long it will take to score it? >> the c.b.o. does the scoring and not the o.m.b. but i would point to you what jack said over the weekend. this was three days ago. he believes based on what he knew and he knows quite a lot having been around this block a number of times in his career that there is time in congress to get a big deal done and that would include everything
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necessary to write and pass legislation. i would remind you about jack, this is something who was with tip owe neal when tip owe neal -- tip owe neil did those compromises with president ronald reagan, he was with president clinton when president clinton had those compromises with speaker gingrich and he's here today and this is something -- somebody who knows how this works and knows how bipartisan compromise can work. with people who were viewed as staunch progressives and staunch conservatives. tip and ronald reagan, bill clinton, newt gingrich. there's ample precedent for why this should work. and plenty of historical precedent for members of congress to look to and say, you know, i did what ronald reagan would have done or i did what tip or bill clinton would have done. >> there's time to get this through, this political will, are you particularly looking at the senate where one member has
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the power to at least slow things down? >> we're looking at both houses, we're not direct participants to keen observers of what app happens in congress and we're aware of how it works and its modality and so we're looking at all of these factors. >> [inaudible] the gang of the six is the vehicle to raise the debt ceiling, that maybe if they move it currently, the debt ceiling raised with it, is that -- >> there are, again, the legislative components of this are tactics of it. i will leave to the president, i will leave to the president and the leaders of congress to work out. as long as we, you know, with the understanding that obviously that we are pursuing the biggest deal possible as well as
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ensuring that there is a fallback provision. you get the dell creating raised and they don't have to have -- >> you mean they have to have it as part of one bill? no. but there is a deadline of august 2 and for raising the debt ceiling. this has focused their mind on deficit reduction as de deal with what is not always pleasant a very routine thing that congress has done every couple of years for as long as you and i have been in washington which is raise the debt ceiling. so, you know, we think that this is nike opportunity and we ought to seize it -- this is a unique opportunity and we ought to seize it.
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>> are you worried that the gang of six -- [inaudible] it gets the debt ceiling raised and everybody backs off? >> i would simply say that these are hypotheticals but we are committed to trying to get a big deal done. we have laid down some of the markers, the president has, about what he will and won't do in terms of raising the debt ceiling. we recognize the mcconnell proposal as a potential fallback option, not a preferred option but a fallback option, simply to get that done. and whether things are attached to it or run parallel to it, i mean, these are all things that i'm sure are being studied by the leadership and the staff. >> i know you're plot -- [inaudible] is he more supportive of this than boles simpson? >> no, i would -- simpson-bowles?
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>> no, i would say he's supportive of the approach taken by both and what is significant about -- >> [inaudible] . >> we made clear at the time the president agreed with many of the proposals put forward by simpson-bowles, disagreed with some, we embraced some of the proposals in his -- in the president's even -- own legislative proposals, ones them a nated from simpson-bowles. including corporate -- ones that emanated from simpson-bowles. fully paying for the alternative minimum tax pass for three years, strengthening social security for the future, these are all things that were part of simpson-bowles. the president endorsed them right away. in terms of enthusiasm, i think we're at different -- we're at a different period now in terms of where we are legislatively. the introduction by the gang of six of a concrete proposal put forward by six members of the senate, three republicans, three
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democrats, representing a broad ideological spectrum in american politics i think is a welcome development. >> is there concern the majority of democratic leaders -- are going to be against these entitlement reforms that he is putting on the table? >> this president has made clear that he understands he has a responsibility and a challenge in persuading democrats that they need to join him in making tough choices. in the name of a broad, balanced approach to deficit reduction, that some of the measures he is willing to consider in terms of entitlement reform will strengthen those programs and in the name of a broader goal here we need to make some tough choices and that includes
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setting aside entitlements, that includes some very tough choices in domestic discretionary spending. as the president has made clear and he did during the c.r., there are cuts that are going to be required in discretionary spending that he would not otherwise want to make and he understands that democratics -- democrats would not otherwise want to make. there are programs out there that are going to be trimmed if there's a deal or cut significantly that have merit but in a time when we're tightening our belts and we need to get our fiscal house in order, the standards are very high for what qualifies as absolutely necessary spending. and in order to allow the government to have the capacity to make the kind of necessary, absolutely necessary investments in education, technology, innovation, infrastructure, you need to cut back as much as you can in the areas where you can. >> are you saying that the president would sign a temporary debt ceiling increase if it was to allow the legislative process
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a little bit more time to get a deal that leaders have already agreed to? >> you know, what i'm saying is that the president will not sign a temporary measure that requires repetive process where we cast out on the capacity of washington to deal with raising its debt ceiling, cast out on whether or not it's going to honor its obligations in a repetive way. what i will say to be clear is we believe a short-term extension absent an agreement to a larger deal is unacceptable. obviously if both sides agree to something significant we will support the measures needed to finalize details. but as you saw jack say over the weekend, there is still something -- there is still time to get something big done and members of boat parties and the american people agree.
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so we continue to press for getting a big deal, we believe there's time to get it done and the answer to your question is that if both sides agree to something concretely significant we will support the measures needed to finalize the details. >> sort of like what he did with the shutdown? he agreed to a deal, a temporary thing. >> rather than make an nail ji i'll just stick with the language i used. >> the president's meeting today -- [inaudible] figuring out which train is going to leave the station. >> several trains left the station. it's a decision about which train we'll be riding when we get to the next station. >> [inaudible] >> how many stops? >> too many stops. >> wasn't that -- wasn't his
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goal to decide on friday and then decide by saturday which thing they were going to ride? >> we need to understand what people's bottom lines are and we've been in basically nonstop process of having conversations, negotiations, meetings to find out what -- i mean, i think jake was talking about it, the way the congress works is not, you know, it's just not that simple and we have to not just come up with propose also that everybody in the room likes but proposals that we can be confident will garner majorities in both houses and that includes both a possible bigger deal, a mid sized deal and the fallback measure that we've talked about that senator mcconnell and senator reid are working on. so those are the conversations that we're having and continue to have. >> but at what point does the president believe that --
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[inaudible] >> at what point we have to -- the process of legislating has to be engaged in order to ensure on the debt ceiling issue, we get it done, i would point you to capitol hill since they know much better than i and they know even better than anyone here, you know, how much time they need to make thap. but we're obviously working with them to ensure that at the very least we have a train to ride that gets to the station by august 2 with legislation that allows for the debt ceiling to be raised. >> [inaudible] >> i just said, by august 2. that's the deadline. and you say by august 1 for something to be ready to be signed, that doesn't mean that you start -- you make a decision on august 1 of what you're going to do because you have to back up from there because you have to pass bills through both
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houses of congress, potentially reconcile them. i don't have a deadline for when that process starts and it could be there are two vehicles that are still being put forward maybe legislatively, even beyond that window, as long as we know that the fail safe measure is moving along and has the support necessary to ensure that that ceiling gets raised. [inaudible] >> has treasury decided which payment to prioritize? >> you have to ask them. i don't know. >> was the phone call to speaker boehner last evening after the vote on cut, cap and balance? >> yes. >> you can read out that -- is the president of the opinion the house wasted its time yesterday? >> i think the president spoke to this yesterday when he said he recognized what they were
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doing and perhaps the need for doing it but that it was time to move past symbolic votes and -- because the clock's tick and we need to get something done that can be supported by both houses and the president. obviously that measure does not have the support necessary to become law and everyone is aware of that so we need to move on. >> does it look to you as though any measure has the support to become law? >> well, that's what i think a lot of members of congress and members of this administration are working on now to ensure that there are measures that emerge from this process that can become law. yeah. >> g.n.c., all about getting 218 votes. what is the white house doing -- >> we would take more than 218 if we could get them. >> what are you doing to get those 218 votes away from the republican side? or is that maybe up for
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discussion this afternoon? >> i think what we've been doing has been pretty clear. we've had a lot of public activity to argue that the merits of, a, why there is no alternative to making sure the united states had the capacity to pay its bills, b, that we should be pushing for a broad, bipartisan balanced deficit reduction bill that allows us to put our fiscal house in order, and set the right signal to the economy that allows the economy to grow and create jobs. now, you know, we obviously have a lot of people who work with and pay attention to congress but in the end it's members of congress who have to vote and their leaders who will take their temperature and measure the support that may or may not be there for different proposals that are put forward. >> [inaudible] >> i don't have any announcements to make on other meetings right now. we have the meeting scheduled for 2:50 p.m. today with house
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and senate democratic leaders. >> and what other question -- >> spoke with the speaker last night as well as the senate minority leader. >> the trade package. that hasn't been sent out yet as far as i know. are you -- is the white house going to send the package out yet? in august or do you think it might be looking -- slipping toward september? >> i don't have any updates for you. we still firmly believe that, you know, it's time to move forward with these agreements and with t.a.a. and get it done now because these agreements have broad bipartisan support and there is broad recognition that they will support, either create or support up to 70,000 american jobs. so we ought to move quickly on them. but i don't have any update on the legislative ma nutionia of how that process is going to work. >> to clarify, point you're
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making about the short-term extension -- [inaudible] >> want me to try sin noms? >> no. but when you say a short-term extension accent -- absent something more significant, are you talking about the mcconnell fallback, because that's short-term? >> i think i stressed, i'm not sure if you were here, there's a significant difference. what the mcconnell bill does is allow for the extension of the debt ceiling into 2013. that is obviously what the president has insisted be done. there are some mechanisms for political cover that allow -- requires votes that will be foregone conclusions but the debt ceiling, it will -- because the whole point about extending the debt creeling for a relatively significant amount of time is to create the kind of certainty that we need to ensure that the domestic and global economy understands that we're functioning appropriately. so the mcconnell provision
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extends the debt ceiling into 2013. correct. those are designed in a way that makes them a foregone conclusion. >> ok, but what is your thinking about what pieces of the gang of six could be attached to some kind of a short-term deal that would make it acceptable? i mean, how does that work? you can't grant whole thing, it takes time to get this done. >> let me remind you that the game of six is an important entrance into the field here of proposals that broadly mirror what is a growing consensus and measures what the president supports which is taking a balanced approach. the vice president in the negotiations he led, there's a lot of road that has been
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traveled already in terms of identifying acceptable discretionary cuts. there's a lot of road that's already been traveled in terms of identifying cuts that can still be negotiated in defense discretionary spending. in savings that can be gleaned from entitlement reform. and obviously savings that can be garnered from dealing with tax code and ending loopholes and other measures that we can take and also then broadly dealing with tax reform. so it is not a question of gang of six, whole or in part being grafted onto something. we know what these proposals look like and there could be good ideas that can be incorporated into the is stuff that's already been negotiated between democrats and republicans and the administration and that could build. we've talked about for a long time now the building blocks and what we need to -- what needs to be done to get us beyond say $1.5 trillion, up to $1.7
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trillion, $2.4 trillion. every participant in the negotiations that were held here is aware of what is required to get there and the compromises and tough voices that need to be made to get there. so gang of six will be another example with some explicit ideas about how you do that and really you're looking at a menu of options and if you -- if there is the political will to do this in a balanced way, we believe it can be done. >> question about the bottom lines which the president has been asking -- [inaudible] today when he meets with democrats, one of their bottom lines all along has been no cuts in medicare benefits, they said they would be willing -- [inaudible] and the president is fond to pointing to polls that show that his balanced approach is very popular. one is not popular is the changes in benefit to either social security or medicare which he discussed with the speaker, the gang of six, that
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that's a -- [inaudible] >> one, i'm not going to negotiate the details that they're going to negotiate with you and then secondly and that's even, you know, if we are able to achieve something significant , that would have as a component of it entitlement reform. b, i think the president's also been very clear in stating that if we go in this direction it requires some hard choices. i mean, don't-ask, don't-tell think could he have been more clear about that and i think that's part of the discussion that needs to be had. >> do you have a sense of the republicans' bottom line? this gang of six requires $1.7 trillion in revenue. that seems to violate one of their bottom lines. >> i think there was a lot of positive response to what the gang of six put forward. you're talking -- you're think being this again as if this is
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the only way to get a grand bargain if you will is in every element and detail of what the gang of six put forward. i remind you that -- [inaudible] you said in that $1.7 trillion, didn't you? >> all right. >> what i'm saying is that's a perfect example of what, you know, would remain to be negotiated about how you get revenue and how much revenue, which affects obviously the size of the package and that's for them to negotiate. if there is a will and the decision made that we should go there, we should try to get the biggest possible deficit reduction package because that's the best thing for the economy, it's what the american people want, it's what the republicans want, it's what the democrats want, it's wlat independents want, it's what you and i want, at least it's what i want. >> it was reported last week that the president told majority leader cantor that he would be able to take this dedate bait to the american people and it was said on a poll that six out of
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10 americans do not think the president was doing enough to reach across the aisle to find a compromise here. i'm wondering, irregardless of what the poll found on republicans, does it show the president's losing this debate as well? >> i would certainly disagree with the assessment that he's losing this debate. i think there's overwhelming evidence that the american people prefer a pragmatic, balanced, bipartisan and significant deficit reduction package. the president made clear when he's come out and spoken to you all here that the choices that would be involved in creating such a grand bargain would need to be explained and sold to democrats and republicans and he has, i think you've seen the president spend a lot of time discussing his views on this in public because he understands
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that this is complex and arcane stuff in many ways, especially when you throw in phrases like raise the debt ceiling and that it needs -- it's important that he does his job to help explain to the american people what's going on in washington and why he's taking the positions he's taking. so he feels that that is absolutely his responsibility and he takes it seriously, he believes that there is growing evidence that the american people broadly support the approach that he's taking and he thinks that that fact, coupled with increasing willingness by members of both parties on capitol hill to think big and to think about this in terms of a balanced, bipartisan deal, is encouraging. >> i think that the poll found his approval rating at 37% which is one of the lowest since he's taken office. does that show that this is dragging the president down as
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well? this whole debate? >> i honestly can tell you that this is about making hard choices that are the right choices to ensure that the american economy is where it needs to be. and there's no question that even though the economy's been growing now for some time, even though we've created more than 2.1 million private sector jobs oinr over the last however many months, with err nowhere near to where we need to be and the anxiety that creates is real and justifiable. and this president is totally focused on making sure that he does everything he can to ensure that every american who is looking for a job can get a job and he will not rest until we get to that point. that's the way he looks at it, not in terms of what his job approval rating is.
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>> these polls are showing that so many americans are getting pretty fed up with the old process. >> understandably. >> does the president -- [inaudible] he seems optimistic yesterday. behind closed doors, though, is he showing any frustration? is he fed up with this? >> to the extent we had some questions about this with regard to one of the meetings last week, i mean, to the extent that the president is ever frustrated, he's frustrated or has been when he sees the potential for something historic to be achieved that's right there and everybody understands what it would take and it's not that hard, the beauty of a balanced approach is that it doesn't require draconian sacrifices by either party. it just requires a willing tons reasonable. -- willingness to be reasonable. and his frustration with the way the process works sometimes sp when he cease that possibility right there and doesn't see
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everybody reaching to grab it. his optimism, which is perpetual, is that he has great faith in the american people to understand what's happening and to send -- to convey to their elected officials what they think ought to be been and he's seeing that now and we've seen some movement in congress in terms of an appreciation and understanding about what we believe broadly the american people expect their leaders in washington to do. but, you know, i think some of the reporting about -- one of the times when he expressed that frustration is when he said, look, you know, some of what's happening here is exactly why people get frustrated with washington. it's exactly why americans get fed up, to use your words. and here's an opportunity to show the opposite, to show that leaders can lead, that the folks -- i mean, the people who are sent to congress are the leaders of their community, they're the ones that were chosen through
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the ballot box to work for them in washington, to get things done. well, this is a huge opportunity to do that. if the political will exists. >> [inaudible] they said you wanted to -- pushing on the various different tracks, you wanted to push on the -- >> i didn't say -- with absolute confidence that none of the trains is a high speed train. no high speed rail here. these are slow moving trains. [laughter] yes, sir. >> is it true that -- [inaudible] decides at least for now needs to go with plan b or get something in place to get past the absolute deadline of august 2, the debt will be inevitably result in derailing the grand bargain train because -- [inaudible] >> that would be a shame but let me be clear that the united states congress will take the measures necessary to ensure
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that we can continue to honor our obligations and pay our bills. after august 2. we are absolutely confidence of that -- confident of that. leaders of congress have expressed the same confidence. we believe that we can get more than that, something much more significant than that within the time frame. if we do not we are going to continue to fight for that because we have to deal with our deficits, we have to deal with our debt and we have to do it in a balanced way. we do believe a unique opportunity has been created here that allows for action to be taken all at once, if you will, for congress to make some very important, hard votes that will we believe end up paying off for the economy, for the american people, but we'll keep fighting. no matter how grand the bargain, if we achieve one, there will still be work to be done. there will still be work to be done to create jobs, to grow the economy.
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and that will continue on august 3 and for the rest of the time that this president's in office. i'll take you and then i apologize that i spent probably a little too much time on the front two rose and i will remedy that next time. >> thank you. when you're talking short-term measures to finalize the details, are you talking hours or days, weeks? >> i'm not going to go beyond the language. >> and also, do you want to go yont language on what constitutes significant? is it $1 trillion in cuts? >> i don't want to be any more specific. thanks very much. >> why not? [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> president obama met this afternoon with leaders them. discuss where had they stand and what it will take for a debt
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deal. on friday, "washington journal" talks with senator tomko burn, one of the bipartisan group of senators called the gang of six them. came out this week with a debt reduction plan that all sides are looking over. senator coburn will discuss it and answer viewer calls friday morning at 7:45 eastern. the space shuttle atlantis returns to earth tomorrow morning, its last landing and the end of the space shuttle program. we'll bring it to you live. the space shuttle is scheduled to touch down at about 6:00 eastern but our live coverage begins at 5:30 eastern on c-span 2. and at 10:00 eastern on c-span 3 we will be live at the senate banking committee looks at the first anniversary of the financial regulations law known as the dodd-frank act. the hearing takes place on the day that consumer financial protection bureau created by the law officially starts. >> if you want to be informed about what is happening in the
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world and particularly in american politics, and particularly in the congress, it's not so hard. c-span has a digital online archive that goes back to 1979 or 1987 -- 1987 where you can basically watch anything that happened in the house or senate chambers right there on your screen. there are sources of information that were unmanageable 20 years ago -- unimaginable 20 years ago. >> the c-span video library makes it easy to follow washington with instant access to events from the white house, to committee rooms and the house and senate chambers. all searchable, shareble and free. the pea body award winning c-span video library, it's washington your way. >> this weekend on book tv on c-span 2, literacy, economics, humor, malcolm x and the obama administration, a few of the panels from our live coverage of the harlem book festival.
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the other barack, the life and career of barack obama senior. and what do you do with your stolen moon rocks? don't try to sell them on the internet. look for the complete book tv schedule on and sign up for book tv alert, weekend schedules in your inbox. >> the c-span networks, we provide coverage in politics, public affairs, nonfiction books and american history. it's all available to you on television, radio, online and on social media networking sites and find our content any time through c-span's video library and we take c-span on the road with our digital bus and local content vehicle, bringing our resources to your community. it's washington your way. the c-span networks, now available in more than 100 million homes, created by cable, provided as a public service. >> the head of the nuclear regulatory commission called on his agency monday to complete
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consideration of new safety recommendations within 90 days. he says the industry would have five years to implement any new regulations that result from that process. speaking at the national press club, his comments are about an hour. my name is mark and i am the president of the naval press club. . we are committed to our professions. and we are working to foster a free press. i ask you to visit our web site. and to donate to programs to our journalism library and find more
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information. so on behalf of our members worldwide i would like to welcome our speaker and those of you. and working journalists who are club members. if you hear applause in our audience, we have members teapeding -- attending. i would like to welcome c-span and public radio. our luncheons are on our press club available for free download and follow the action. after our guest speech concludes we will have questions and answer. and i would ask each of you to stand up here.
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>> michelle and our reporter with klatz. deputy of the speaker today. melissa and our very capable speaker's committee chair. speak over the speaker. ron is our chief editor and who is organizing. and team leader with the fire protection branch and a guest of the speaker. and a reporter from reuters. and a member of our press club
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board and our washington bureau chief. and give them a round of applause. before march 11, earthquake and tsunami triggered a disaster at the nuclear plant in japan, it seemed like the prospects were bright for the nuclear industry in the united states. in a time of deep divide in washington, a rare, bipartisan consensus had developed there was a need to re-examine whether we should build nuclear plants in our country. it gives off no greenhouse gas emissions and could help address concerns about global warming and could lessen the nation's dependence on foreign oil and create thousands of jobs. others believe safety of nuclear technology since three mile
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island and chernobyl have been proven by its use in other countries. even the administration for a combination of all those reasons has offered loan guarantees to jump start nuclear construction. the accident in japan grabbed headlines. radiation was released and and the developments put the safety of nuclear technology back in the spotlight and in a public debate about that technology. and with that, the safety of nuclear power in the united states with which the nuclear regulatory commission is entrusted. the n.r.c. released a report on the industry and suggested improvements for safety and plant preparedness but the industry is concerned about what those recommendations might cost. some environmental groups do not believe any steps could make nuclear power safe enough. it is with this news backdrop we
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are pleased to have our guest speaker. president obama appointed our guest head of the n.r.c., a doctorate in psysi crmp s and a congressional science fellow. his next job was science adviser to senate majority leader of harry reid in nevada. senator reid says he supports building new plants but opposes storing nuclear waste in his state. we are pleased to have him address this topic and i believe he is our first guest speaker who i now learned has a spouse of the national press club and works for c-span. give a warm welcome to n.r.c.
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chairman gregory jaczko. [applause] >> i should say after that introduction, at least my wife will be happy with whatever i say today. i want to thank you for that introduction. i'm very pleased and honored to be here today speaking at this institution. the national press club is a venue like no other. it has been the center of washington journalism and news for more than 100 years. . and as i was doing research for this and my staff did a little investigation of the press club they notice d its emblem was that of an owl. now i won't claim wisdom and i'll let you judge my sense of awareness but i can relate to the long nights spent sleepless
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on the job. as chairman of the nuclear regulatory commission, one of the best aspects of this job is to have an opportunity to lead a staff of 4,000 dedicated public servants. like any regulatory agency, we hear from all sides and all perspectives about both our own safety record and that of the industry we regulate. we know we can always do better and we always strive to do better, but i have absolute confidence and i believe that the american people should as well in the experience, expertise and professionalism of the n.r.c. staff. i have brought three excellent representatives of that team with me and i would like to introduce them to you. as you heard, michelle is won who has a degree in nuclear engineering and worked for the n.r.c. for eight years and serves as one of two senior resident inspectors at the
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indian point nuclear power plant in new york. she is the eyes and ears. she and her fellow resident inspectors are the front line staff. also with me is dan who is originally from the d.c. area and has a degree in fire protection from maryland. he has worked on improving fire protection at nuclear plants all across the country for the past 11 years. this is a very important and long-standing issue for the agency and he has been a big part of the efforts to make progress on this issue. and finally, jennifer, who has been with the agency for 18 years. she has a dr ate in nuclear engineering from m.i.t. right now, she makes decisions
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on where the n.r.c. spends its research money, the best advance sciences. and she was part of a 24/7 center team during the japan crisis and she was asked to serve on the international atomic energy agency's fact-finding mission to japan. these three outstanding professionals are representative of the thousands of individuals who work day in and day out to make sure we meet our responsibilities for safety to the public. now i'm sure the recent events in japan and their implications of how we approach nuclear safety are foremost in everyone's mind. since the events began to unfold four months ago, we have taken strong and immediate actions to ensure the continued, safe -- safety. the commission has undertaken a
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systemic review of the n.r.c.'s nuclear safety program. this review had both short and long-term components and it has moved forward with a strong sense of urgency given the safety issues under examination. the commission established a task force made up of some of the agency's most experienced and expert staff. all together with the six members on this task force, they represent more than 135 years of regulatory experience. the task force has had full access to all of the other staff in our headquarters and our regions and they are continuing to work in japan to assist the government as they respond to the situation there. as part of its review, the task force reached out to the federal emergency management agency to benefit from their expertise in emergency management and the institute for nuclear power
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operations in order to understand the industry's response. the task force considered information received from stake holders and monitored international efforts and reports by the international atomic agency and other organizations. last week, this task force completed its 90-day review, part of the short-term review assigned to them by the commission and submitted its report and recommendations to the commission for its consideration. in line with the n.r.c.'s commitment to transparency and openness, the commission has made its full report publicly available for everyone to see. the task force will formally present the report to the commission at a meeting tomorrow and i thank them for their tremendous work. their focus remains first and foremost on nuclear safety. charlie miller delayed his
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retirement in order to lead this effort and has hopes to retire soon but we are doing our best to talk him out of it. this task force developed a set of 12 recommendations, many with both short and long-term elements and they were recommendations that were needed to strengthen nuclear safety in this country. in its review, the task force did not find any imminent risk to health and safety from the continued operation of the nation nuclear power plants. the task force was clear, however, that any accident involving damage to the reactor fuel and uncontrolled radioactive releases of the magnitude of japan even without significant health consequences is inherently unacceptable. this is the same reaction that i have seen throughout the country and throughout the world. quite simply, many of us who work in this field thought that this type of accident could not and would not happen again.
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so the challenge for the congress, the industry, the public and the agency is how to better ensure an accident like the one in japan will not happen in the united states. but like a doctor's oath, we must ensure we do that in a way that does no greater harm to nuclear safety. and i think that is something and i hope to share with you some thoughts about how i think we can do that. now as you can tell, i'm proud of the work of the task force. they have given us an excellent starting point with which to tackle this. over the next 90 days, just like the task force took 90 days, i call on the commission to do its job to review these recommendations in a public and transparent way ensuring from all the relevant stake holders. regardless of your view on the recommendations, this is a step we can all agree on.
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now this is by no moans the first time we contemplated significant changes to our approach of nuclear safety. our approach to nuclear safety and security has necessarily evolved as new scientific information and operational experience have given us a better understanding of nuclear technology and its risks. although this process has primarily unfounded incrementally through piece male and patch work, the history of nuclear power has been punk you tated by several events that upended our understanding of nuclear safety and security. in 1975, the brown's ferry fire occurred at a nuclear power plant and led us to rethink our understanding of fire protection, an issue we continue to work on to this day. 1979, three mile island accident led us to rethink a large number
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of safety improvements and approaches to safety at nuclear power plants including a strong focus and emphasis on the control rooms and how people working in those environments could best deal with the challenging situation like the accident at three mile island. and the september 11, 2001 terrorist attacks was another watershed event that caused us to rethink of how we approach nuclear security in this country. these events led to dramatic changes in both how we regulate and how the nuclear industry operates, changes that remain to this day. basic on the analysis and recommendations, it is clear that the accident at the japan site is another such event. in laying out a framework, the commission's task force has chartered a task forward how to
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move forward. these task force recommendations are too extensive for me to fully discuss today. they range in areas from loss of power due to earthquake, flooding, venting of hydrogen and emergency preparedness. they include proposed new requirements for nuclear power plants to evaluate and upgrade their flooding and seismic protection and deal with prolonged loss of power and develop emergency plans that specifically contemplate the possibility of events involving multiple reactors. throughout the report, the task force emphasizes that n.r.c. action is essential in addressing these challenges and voluntary industry initiatives are no substitute for strong n.r.c. oversight. in addition to these specific recommendations, the task force calls on the commission to redefine adequate protection in
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light of what we have learned from japan. now for those who are not steeped in our language, protection is not a familiar term. our statutory responsibility is for safety. it's the touchstone of what we do as regulators and standard of safety that the n.r.c. must require nuclear power plants in order to allow them to operate. over the last 25 years, there have been few occasions where the occasion has deemed it necessary to revisit this standard and redefine what safety ultimately means. we did so after september 11 and now the task force established by the commission believes we should do so again. given the insights of the accident in japan had provided about rare catastrophic events. about the decision whether to redefine this core of safety is one for the decision to make by
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looking at the recommendations, japan's accident was unacceptable and we need to take steps that that accident does not happen in the united states. as we consider and respond to these recommendations, the commission is committed to involving the public and stake holders in this process. we never forget that nuclear regulation is the public's business and that we have the responsibility to conduct our work openly and transparently. since my very first speech after joining the commission almost seven years ago, openness and transparency are indispensible ingredients for effective decision making. in order to move forward, i have proposed to my commission colleagues a road map for taking action on this report. the centerpiece of this proposal is a series of public commission meetings with the staff and the many stake holders who will have
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opinions about the task force report. in the lead-up to these meetings, there would be an opportunity for stake holders to provide feedback on the recommendations and for the staff to provide additional information to the commission about their thoughts on the task force recommendations. i believe this approach will she ensure that the commission benefits from the information that our stake holders bring to the table. we are in a strong position today to be able to move forward quickly and effectively because the task force did an outstanding job with a tremendously challenging responsibility. the american public should be grateful and proud of the service that these members have provided. this task force has done its part in helping us to better understand what nuclear safety gives us. it is time for us to do our part. we have the responsibility to the american people to diligently review these
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recommendations. and make the best decisions to ensure the continued safety of the public. in light of the task force's work, i see no reason why the commission cannot provide clear direction on each of these recommendations in less than 90 days. that is the time the commission gave the task force to do its job and it is more than enough time for the commission to outline a clear path forward. now i don't think that that means that the agency will be able to take final action on all of these matters. since certain of the recommendations themselves are requirements or changes to our regulations that may take months or years to develop. but i believe we have enough information at this time to take the necessary interim steps on issues identified to the task force and initiate the longer term changes to our regulations that will allow full and
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meaningful participation by the public. in order to provide that clear direction within the 90 days, it's up to all of us to think about new ways to do things differently. that should not be unexpected, since these are not normal times for the n.r.c. we all know that some changes are in order and none of us want to make rushed or poor decisions. we must move forward with the urgency called for by these issues. as chairman, i'm committed to ensuring that the commission has all the information it needs to make timely decisions and take decisive decisions. as i alluded to in my remarks, this is by no moans the first time -- by no means the first time what safety and security requires. we embarked on an effort to overhaul and strengthen the security of the nation's nuclear
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plants in the aftermath of the september 11 attacks. while we move forward with short-term changes, it has taken the n.r.c. and industry 10 years to fully implement the new framework. it would be unacceptable for our current effort to take that long. that is why i'm calling today for the n.r.c. and the nuclear industry to complete and implement the process of learning and applying the lessons of the japanese accident in five years, by 2016. this will take a lot of hard work, strong and decisive leadership from the commission and stronger commitment by our licensees to continue to make safety the number one priority. we ultimately have no other choice in this regard. i think the task force has provided an excellent start to this effort and i believe we are more than up to the task of seeing this effort through, because ultimately, this is not a challenge or problem for me or the member of the commission or
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the agency or the nuclear agency. it is a challenge for all of us as we continue to ensure that nuclear power can be used safely and securely in this country. this is not a n.r.c. problem or nuclear industry problem but ultimately a nuclear safety imperative. the american people are looking to everyone involved in nuclear safety, from the operators, to the members of the public to do their part in continuing to protect the public. and this is something on which we must deliver. so with that, i thank you for your attention and will answer any questions you may have. [applause] >> we do have a lot of questions today as evidenced by the presence of a fair number of working reporters covering the story today. let's talk about the core of your speech, so to speak and
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we'll ask which of the recommendations in the report do you think are the most urgent, first of all? >> well, i think the task force did a nice job of breaking the recommendations down into several different things. they recommended that we take immediate action, those that would require orders, some of which that would be done through a longer term process like regulations. i could go through the list here of where they really thought the more immediate actions could be taken. but when you lose all electric power at the site, that is a challenge we saw in japan. the importance of fully understanding the impact of natural hazards and flooding and earthquakes on a site, the importance of being able to monitor spent fuel pools and know and understand the conditions of spent fuel pools
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in the event of an accident. in short, perhaps more appropriately, the real answer to this question, this is what the commission needs to work through, figuring out which of these recommendations are most important, which do we want to implement on a short-term time frame and on a longer term time frame. but the commission has given us a good place to start. >> perhaps this question has been answered, you have been quoted as saying you want to fast track the recommendations. is that parallel to your recommendations of the five years? >> in order to get to a decision in five years, we have to start somewhere and the place to start is with this task force and their recommendations. the commission asked for this report and the staff was assembled to complete it and they did their job in 90 days. it's reasonable for us to go through those recommendations and review them in 90 days.
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that doesn't mean we are done. many of these recommendations suggest the need for longer term review and action by the commission. i suspect this will begin the start of a process that i would like us to see having a goal completed in five years. >> they asked for this report to be created. have you consulted with your fellow commissioners on the time lines you have laid out and what do you think you have to do to gain support? >> well, we have begun the process of consulting and i had a meeting with my colleagues where i laid out my proposal for us getting the first step done within 90 days and i suspect we will continue to have discussions over the next several weeks as we begin the process of examining and reviewing this report. we have a meeting tomorrow where the commission will meet to talk about it. so, i think this is always an
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involved process whenever we have these kind of sweeping changes to our regulations and it's important we hear from stake holders and a large number of people to make sure we move forward in the appropriate way. we can act within these recommendations within 90 days. >> you are saying you believe you have sufficient support? >> well, we'll see. [laughter] >> talking about the 90 days, why is the 90-daytime line if there is no imminent threat to safety? >> as the task force laid out, there are a number of actions that should be taken in the immediate time frame. that doesn't mean there was an imminent threat. if there was, we would be shutting down. that's not what we are suggesting. but again, the process of any type of regulatory action we take is a process that takes
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some time. if it's a process that involves changing our regulations, that will take a year or more to complete and then following that, there are likely changes that the licensees will have to make. all of that can add up to several years or more. it's important that we begin with the simple task of reviewing the recommendations in the report and coming to a final decision on those. the other point i would like to emphasize is that if you look at the commission's schedule right now, the work we have in front of us is varied. but a big piece of that right now is looking at the licensing and potential review of new reactor licenses. for the first time in a long time in this country. we are on a schedule to complete those reviews by the end of this year. it would not be appropriate for us to go forward with those new kinds of reviews if we have not dispositioned the recommendations in this task force. we have to understand what they will mean. and if we want to keep that work
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moving forward at a reasonable pace, we have to come to some resolution with these recommendations. >> since you brought up the applications, give people an idea of the landscape in the united states how many nuclear plants are out there and how many people would like to build now. >> we have 400 operating plants and we have a number of applications in front of the commission to license new reactors. if you look at that group of applications, there is probably a handful or fewer of plants that if they were to receive a license would move to construction. right now there is a plant in georgia and a plant in south carolina where there is kind of preconstruction work going on to prepare the sites for the potential of a new reactor being licensed. it's just a few plants that are
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moving forward if they were to receive a license. >> can you talk about visiting japan for the first time after the accident, what did you expect to see? and maybe on one hand the technical things that you witnessed and on the other hand, the human things that you saw. >> well, i had the opportunity to visit japan in the very early days -- about two weeks after the event had started and i went to tokyo on a short trip to meet with my counterparts in japan see the team that the n.r.c. had september to assist the japanese government. probably one of the most i think memorable moments for me during that event was just the effort and dedication of all the people who were involved in dealing with this very difficult situation. this clearly was a very challenging situation for the people of japan.
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and to see people from the n.r.c., people from other u.s. agencies working there to help our japanese colleagues, i think, was a real reinforcement about the strong bond we have with our colleagues in japan. i was very impressed with the efforts and focus with the people who were there and their dedication on all sides to try and work through what were difficult issues in a very challenging environment. >> how do you think they're doing? >> ultimately, i don't think i'm in a position to judge. i don't think we can appreciate the mag any sued of the crisis and the magnitude of the challenge in japan. so what i think we can do best at the n.r.c. is we can provide expertise as they request it and help them best handle a very challenging situation. but as i said, what i did see
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was a lot of people, very dedicated to resolving what was a difficult and challenging situation. >> you are in a position to figure out what they did well and did not do well and apply that to the landscape in the united states. can you break that down as to lessons learned from that and obviously some degree, it is in your recommendations, but specifically to the japan situation, something that was good, something that wasn't so good. apply it to that, if you would, please. >> the international community as a whole is working through that question to figure out and understand what lessons exactly we have learned. as the task force laid out, clearly we all want to have a better understanding or make sure we have a good understanding of the types of natural hazards that can affect any nuclear power plants. clearly, there is an appreciation that we want to be able to manage the situation in
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which you lose all electric power, to be able to manage that with more certainty and to maintain safety systems and instrumentation and control systems for a much longer period of time than our plants are germly designed for right now. there are some obvious lessons that we have seen. there will be more specific lessons that will be coming out of the work that was spearheaded by jennifer, working with the iaea. we'll learn more in the coming year that will give us more specifics about what kinds of things we have to change. we have to consider some of these things that i talked about and spent fuel pools and the fact that you could have multiple reactors having challenges at the same time. these were novel challenges and i think our colleagues in japan responded in a way they thought was best and with the limited
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resources that a large earthquake like that could present and the challenges of a dramatic, difficult situation. >> questioner asked what in your opinion is the future of nuclear energy in japan after all this trouble? >> i don't want to speculate on the future of nuclear power in japan. that's a decision that the japanese government and people have to make, how they intend to move forward. my focus and the focus of the n.r.c. should be on ensuring in this country we continue to do to expand the safety net and make it bigger, capture some of the things that may have been following through in japan and that's what the task force did. >> do you think evacuation plans for people living near nuclear power plants are adequate and do you think there should be
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periodic drills of real people? >> we have a system evacuation that are designed around two areas. 10 miles, where we plan and prepare for evacuations in the short-term. beyond that, we have prepared and planned for the ability to take action to secure food or other material that could lead to radiation being inguessed in individuals from the aftermath of an accident. that forms a very good planning basis for us for now. and one of the things that the task force they looked at, they made recommendations in this area. one of them was that the facilities in the short-term have to make sure they can plan for the potential of a long-term loss of electric power. until we address that recommendation to enhance our ability to deal with that situation, we want to make sure from an emergency planning perspective, the operators are
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looking to see ways they can address that type of situation. one of the recommendations that the task force had as well for the longer term review to look at how we consider the impacts of multiple units having a challenge at one time and what kind of impact that might have on our emergency preparedness program. there are some things they told us we could do in the short-term and things we need to do in the long-term. we believe we have a system that is adequate to deal with the challenges as we know them. and again, i would remind people that in the event of an accident, very unlikely event that an accident would occur, the appropriate steps would be taken to ultimately take the right steps to protect the public. and that's the focus for our programs and right now, we have a good basis. >> could you talk about sort of the specific recommendations on
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the power backup issue you made in your report, what people have to do right now, in other words, what's the current requirement, what you need immediately and longer term, what would be ideal. >> in the area for the loss of electric power, the task force recommended two things. they said we need to change our regulations in two ways, one to change the scope of how we deal with this loss of electric power and that was to ensure that we can at least cope with that for eight hours. and in addition to that, if we got into a more severe scenario that you have the ability in an extended way to cope for another 72 hours. that is a very comprehensive, but important recommendation that the task force lends itself to longer terminals that a change in our regulations would require. the second thing that they suggested was that we institute
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an order right now to take equipment that we already have on site and ensure that that equipment which could help mitigate this extended long-term loss of power, we take that equipment and put it in places and locations where it is more likely to withstand the things we saw in japan, the potential for significant flooding, the potential for an earthquake. it is a two-pronged approach. in the short-term, we would better shore up that equipment that we already have in place that performs a mitigation function if we were to ever get into a severe situation and couple that with a longer term effort to change our regulations to deal with the situation in a long ter term. >> explain the eight hours and 72 hours. obviously you made that decision for a reason. >> some of that is by virtue of historical information.
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right now, generally, nuclear power plants respond -- are required to cope four to eight hours to this loss of electric power. it looked at this issue and found eight hours was an appropriate time to ultimately put the plant in a position which they could take all the other actions that would be needed to do this extended period of coping. the eight hours buys you the time you need to prepare and set up everything else. again, this is something that will be tremendous debate and discussion about because these are the kinds of things we want to hear from stake holders and have more refined analysis which is why the task force recommended we do that. >> questioner asked, to your knowledge, has anyone died as a
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result of this accident in japan and how are the workers affected overall? what do you know about the health effects? >> members of the general public were protected and actions were taken to reduce the potential long-term impacts from the accident. there are some workers who have received doses in excess of what we typically would look at for an emergency worker in a situation like this. but again, that's not necessarily unexpected given the challenges of the site. there have been a few workers who received some skin exposures that are significant, but at this point, certainly nothing that appears to have any impact ultimately for immediate health impacts. so the challenges really are on
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dealing with the population that is displaced from their homes which personally i believe is a missing or not discussed health or ultimately impact to people. being told to leave your home for extended periods of time is i think not many of us would want to deal with and when we talk about the health impacts we normally talk in terms of the radiation exposures and because of the programs we have in the nuclear field, they were able to be minimized, and that's a good thing. as i said, as i talk to people in the international community, as i talk to people in this country, there is no one who believes that what happened in japan would be acceptable in this country. that's why we have some recommendations to help us work through that. >> we are here in the nags' capital and people want to know about the players and all the
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different gears. the person asked, can you talk about the n.r.c.'s relationship with the white house and how can other government agencies help your efforts -- how do they help your efforts? >> as an independent regulatory agency, we have an independent role here in setting nuclear policy. now certainly during the events of the crisis of japan, there was a tremendous amount of coordination between the n.r.c. and many different agencies in the federal government. in fact, the n.r.c. staff who went over to japan, did not go over as a team but went over as a usaid team and there is a tremendous number of people throughout the government who have offered their assistance. while the event seen many of the headlines, it wasn't the biggest piece of the u.s. response.
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in general, what i have seen through my interactions as chairman is we have worked very cooperatively and with the white house, with other federal agencies, but there has been a very strong respect for the independent role of the n.r.c. in ultimately making nuclear safety decisions. >> how do you determine the prompt balance between the regulatory agency and the industry itself? if we lived in an ideal world, the industry would be self-policing, but maybe long-term experience across the landscape of the business world suggests it isn't a dependable model. how do you see it working right now and how would you like to see it? >> the system works pretty well. the n.r.c. has the responsibility to establish safety requirements. we have an industry that has been responsible for implementing those and has the
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immediate day-to-day responsibility for safety. there is a self-regulatory organization which plays a role in providing excellence in the nuclear safety industry. i think we have many different pieces working on this and we have the public. and i think one of the things that i continue to be amazed by is the level of engagement and involvement we get from members of the public on all of these issues. i think whenever you bring a lot of different views together, it's always more challenging to make decisions, but in the end, i think it's the right thing. this is a difficult area in which to make decisions. and so by design, i think it's a system that is intended to be open and transparent and seek input from a lot of different stake holders. >> from a horrible accident, there's an opportunity now to improve regulation at least from your vantage point, is that the
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benefit of this disaster? the questioner would make the point any press is good press, therefore the negative might forge a positive. is that essentially an opportunity you are presented? >> i don't think there is anyone involved in this who would prefer not have this opportunity presented to them. this is not something that we want to be faced with nor the people in japan. so given the challenges in front of us, we have an obligation of the american people to do what we think is right. and as i said, that's a process that i think is going to need the involvement of stakeholders and need to hear from the industry. we talk a lot about impacts and the impacts of the changes that we as a regulator make. as i talk to some licenseys, one of the things they have impressed upon me and i think is an important point that as we make these changes, it's very important that we ensure the
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continued safe operations of the facilities in this country. there is not an imminent concern or threat with a facility. as we make these changes we have to do it in a systemic way but do not create challenges that would detriment the industry. that's the right way to go forward. >> one more question, a person asked, how surprised by the tone of the report what lamented so-called patchwork of regulations and are things really that bad? >> well, i wouldn't say that patch work is a bad thing. it is -- what the task force was trying to say was that looking back now with some degree of behindsight, when you put together the pieces of our regulatory system, what you find is that there have been incidents, changes and
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modifications. and what i think this task force did, which i applaud them on, they looked at this from a big picture perspective and realized there may be a better organizing principle for all of these changes we have made over the years. i don't view that as a bad thing, but a recognition that as issues have come up, we have addressed those issues. and there are enough issues now that some trends have developed and the task force have said that the incidents fall into two categories, we want to protect against design-based accidents, withstand earthquakes and flooding. but there may a natural disaster that we haven't envisioned and we have to have something beyond that, what they termed an steppeded design basis and looked at the things that the commission did and added on
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additional requirements and regulations and that presented and created that patchwork. it's not necessarily a problem. it's simply the historical development and nature of what we do. so now we have an opportunity to take all of those things and put them into some more consistent bins that as we go forward will provide a new way for new requirements in response to new incidents, give us a better sense of what those two bins they fall in. and the basic things you need to do for safety as opposed to those things that are dealing with the mitigation and affect of design basis. >> as we all know, germany has voted to shut down its nuclear reactors by 2022. is that an overreaction? and do you expect to see other countries following suit? >> as i said, my focus is here
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in the u.s. and making sure we have the appropriate reaction in this country to the events in japan. ultimately it's up to the people and government of germany to decide given their situation and circumstances. >> do you think other countries may follow? >> i don't know. it's hard to say. what will be crucially important is for here in the united states, for us to take this task force's recommendations to work through them in a systemic way. every country i have seen is taking and approach to address the situation in japan if they are focused on nuclear safety, there will be good information about which to make a good decision. >> as a scientist as you see a country tying to juggle its nuclear energy needs, is it a necessary part of that balance? >> the day i took the oath of
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office to be a commissioner, i stopped having opinions about that. and ultimately my job is nuclear safety and there are a lot of people in washington throughout the country who have a lot of good ideas about what our energy mix should be and our approach to energy should be and i would defer to them and my focus is on safety. >> we'll ask you that question a few years down the road. there are news today about the food supply japan being contaminated and cattle. is that to be expected in these circumstances? >> from what i have seen, the levels of can tom nation are measurable. they aren't levels immediately harmful to anyone. as you deal with a situation like this, there are going to be the challenges of maintaining and communicating with people
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who produce the food. we have what we call a pathway, 50 mile area where we prepare and pre-plan to be able to do -- take the appropriate actions for livestock, other food production that could allow radioactive material to get into the food supply. i think any system you have is going to have challenges and that's part of why there is monitoring and work to ensure the integrity of that food supply. yucca mountain, i have tried to boil the questions down. it seems to be boiled down to one of the questions i have, which takes the legal approach, the federal appeals court sternly said in a ruling earlier this month that the n.r.c. must act on the application for nuclear waste storage at yucca mountain. will the n.r.c. act on that application and what must be done essentially to move forward
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on that? what becomes of the application process from that point on? >> well, i can't comment too specifically on this, because this is an active matter in front of the commission, this legal question. certainly read the opinion from the court and the commission has had and still deliberating on the issue. >> what are the options for long-term storage that are out there? >> the secretary has appointed a blue ribbon commission to examine the options for long-term storage and that's something they have a focus on. for the n.r.c., our focus is on faith and security. so we have taken a good look at the fuel that's out there and can be maintained safely and securely 60 years beyond which a plant shuts down, which gives you 100 years or more of safe
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storage and secure storage. and the commission last year went one step further and asked the agency and asked our staff to begin exploring a period beyond that, maybe 200, 300, 400 years, to see if there were any safety and security issues that came out of that. that is something we will be working on in the next few years to do that. right now, we don't see an immediate concern with the safety and security. >> extreme weather, seems like we are seeing it more these days, does that present a greater risk to nuclear power out there and if so is that embodied in your recommendations? >> that is one of the recommendations, to make sure we have a good understanding of the natural phenomenon that can occur. the way we have looked at it is to look at the worst thing that has happened and make sure the plants can be designed to deal with that kind of hazard.
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as we get new information, as we get better ways to understand and predict what could happen from a natural fen no, ma'amon, we want to update our -- phenomenon, we want to update our requirements. the commission was examining two fundamental issues that deal with natural hazards. one has to deal with earthquakes in the central and eastern part of the united states and the potential that our understanding of those wasn't as good as it was when we initially licensed those facilities and the other had to deal with flooding and the potential for a more significant flooding event. it doesn't mean that any of those are going to require changes to the facilities and there isn't an immediate concern but we are learning organization. and when we get new information we work to apply and implement it. >> those of us who are old enough to remember, there was a
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fair amount of public protests around nuclear power. a person is referencing what they are seeing out there today and ultimately the question is, what do you think is the level of public support for nuclear power out there? as a follow-up, is there an increased level of opposition in the united states as a result of the japan disaster? >> that's a difficult for me to answer. a lot of people do polling to answer these questions and what i see and i read these in the newspaper, probably say their is support for nuclear power in this country. but i think there is concern and there is opposition as well. i had a chance actually a few months ago to go up to the indian point nuclear power plant in new york that has a lot of public interest and outside the gate of the plant were four, five, maybe 10 people who were
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protesting and were there partially because i was visiting, i think. and i held a press conference, toured the plant and visited the plant and on my way out i got out and talked to the folks. what i find, there are lots of people who have very legitimate questions about the safety of nuclear power. and ultimately, i think it's the job of the n.r.c. to make sure we take the appropriate steps to ultimately ensure safety of the public. and in the seven years that i have been at the n.r.c. or six years, what i find is that the people who work at the agency are dedicated every day to doing that, to making sure that we protect public health and safety. it's what we do. and i have just been impressed to see it in so many different ways as a commissioner and now as chairman. >> i'll ask you to stand by. we have a couple of last housekeeping matters. i would like to remind my
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audience about upcoming speakers, congresswoman michele bachmann, presidential candidate representing minnesota will be out here. august 19, governor gary johnson and also a presidential candidate. october 13, secretary ray lahood, the secretary of the department of transportation and early november, tom brokaw will be here to talk about his new book. i would like to present you with the traditional n.p.c. mug. one last question -- [applause] >> i can remember growing up there were any number of movies that tend todd demonize nuclear power, like "china syndrome" and the less popular "simpsons." and when you see those popular portrayals of nuclear power, does that bother you and what's
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your reaction to it? >> i wouldn't say it bothers me. "the simpsons" are funny and the n.r.c. has to communicate to the public about what we do. the people who work at the n.r.c. are dedicated to nuclear safety and talented group of people and as i look down at the nuclear power plants in this country, they are dedicated people at those plants as well. doesn't mean we don't have disagreements or differences, but in the end, if everyone does their job, we'll get there. >> how about a round of applause for our guest speaker today? [applause] >> i would like to thank you for coming here today and thank the national press club staff, our including our library. find more information about the national press club at our web site at www at thank
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you very much and we are adjourned. [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2011] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> c-span bringing you politics and public affairs every morning, it's "washington journal" about the news of the day connecting you with news officials, policy makers and journalists. watch the u.s. house and week nights, congressional hearings and policy forums and supreme court oral arguments. on the weekend, see our signature interview programs. on saturdays, "the
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U.S. House of Representatives
CSPAN July 20, 2011 5:00pm-8:00pm EDT


TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 40, America 29, Mr. Garamendi 21, Washington 19, United States 17, Mcconnell 10, Japan 8, Mr. Perlmutter 6, Colorado 6, Mr. Tonko 6, Boehner 5, Mr. Welch 5, U.s. 5, Ms. Sutton 5, Ronald Reagan 4, Garamendi 3, United States Congress 3, Reid 3, Ohio 3, The N.r.c. 3
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